New Granby Fire Chief Thompson to ‘hit the ground running’
GRANBY — Grand Fire Protection District No. 1, or Granby Fire, has completed the lengthy process of hiring a new fire chief out of more than 50 applicants, choosing Ron Thompson for the job.
Thompson is set to arrive in Grand County from Jefferson City, Mo., with his wife Sheri on Jan. 16, and will bring with him more than a quarter-of-a-century’s-worth of fire protection knowledge.
Thompson said he wants to “hit the ground running and get to know people to see where we are and where we need to go,” he said.
Thompson has been employed as the deputy chief of the Inspection Unit for the Missouri Division of Fire Safety.
He is a third generation fire chief, following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, and has experience working with fire departments in Colorado, including nearly four years as the chief of the Pagosa Springs Fire Protection District.
Thompson’s grandfather founded a fire department in the northern part of Kansas City, he said. His grandfather acted as chief of the fire department until Thompson’s father assumed the role.
He began his career in the early 1970s and has spent his entire life working for fire departments. After moving around to a few different departments, he came to Pagosa Springs, where he spent a good deal of time mitigating the impacts of the bark-beetle epidemic.
He worked with a number of homeowners associations in the Pagosa Springs area to clear out dead or dying trees that fell prey to the mountain pine beetle and worked to support programs that utilized the dead wood.
He hopes to continue work in Grand County to mitigate the impacts of the mountain pine beetle to ensure local communities remain safe from wildfires, something he sees as a top priority as he takes the new position.
Thompson had left before the West Fork fires ripped through the area of Wolf Creek Pass, north of Pagosa Springs. The West Fork Fire Complex, as it was dubbed, was made up of three fires that all started by lightning in 2013 and scorched over 109,000 acres in the Pagosa Springs area.
Granby’s newly hired fire chief expects to make some changes in the department when he officially assumes his role, though he wants to get acquainted with the department’s staff and goals before doing so, he said.
“I want to become part of the fabric before I start changing the wallpaper,” he said. “I’m anxious to get in and get settled, and I want to become part of the community and be a contributor.”
One of the programs the Granby Fire Department operates is the resident program for firefighters, in which they house and train young and upcoming firefighters. Thompson said the Pagosa Springs Fire Protection District operated a similar program.
“I want to look to see how this one is structured and see if we can improve it, if possible, and if not see what we can do to promote the program further,” he said.
While Thompson has only made one visit to the area so far, during which he met a limited number of staff at the Granby fire station, he said he has enjoyed meeting the people who currently work with the Granby fire department and is excited to meet the rest of the crew.
Thompson said he looks forward to utilizing the talents the fire department already has, and he commended former Fire Chief David Boyes on the work he has done, especially in designing and constructing the department’s top-of-the-line facility.
“It is a great facility and it will continue to be great for a long time into the future,” he said.
Boyes was abruptly relieved of his duties as fire chief upon a decision by the board of directors during a special meeting in June for the fire protection district to change direction and management.
Boyes started working for the department in 1981 as a volunteer firefighter and moved up the ranks to attain the position as fire chief. The district did not release specifics surrounding the decision to relieve Boyes of his duties, saying it was following “legal counsel.”
Jim Cautrell, fire marshal and division chief for the district, served as interim chief while the district sought out a person to fill the position.
Reid Tulley 970-887-3334
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